Summary: It is better for us to confess our sins before we are forced to do so by getting caught. When we do, the burden of guilt will not be able to limit our spiritual growth and our worship and prayers will not be hindered.
There is a program on the Investigation Discovery Channel called “I Almost Got Away with It”. The story of David and Bathsheba would be a perfect one for that show, especially the part where the prophet Nathan confronts David. David thought that he had committed the perfect crime by having an affair with Bathsheba and covering it up by killing her husband. Unfortunately, he was caught by the one true, perfect, all-seeing and all-knowing God. David forgot that God sees everything that his people do. It reminds me of the line from the Christmas song “Santa Clause Comes to Town” that goes like this:
He sees you when you’re sleeping
He knows when you’re awake
He knows when you’ve been bad or good
So be good for goodness sake.
This passage deals with the ethical and moral failings that have plagued Christians throughout history. Greed and selfishness cause believers to do whatever it takes to get something that they want. Believers and non-believers have to accept the consequences of their actions.
The world has no sympathy for honesty these days. Sure, people give it lip service, and we tell our children to be honest, but if we stop and think about it, many of us would rather have our children be shrewd than honest. We teach them to be suspicious, to protect themselves and to ward off people like the typical used car salesman or politicians.
The story tells us about ourselves and our sinful nature, how we covet what is not ours, and how we often try to cover up our sins. Our sinful nature often causes us to forget who we are and who we are supposed to be. Our sins cause us to discover our true nature, and it is far from what we imagine ourselves to be.
We, like David, are not perfect. We often sin and either try to cover it up or think that our sin will not be discovered. We need to remember that God sees all and knows all-including our sins. God’s Word presents people as they are, not as later writers wish they would have been. To quote Numbers 32:23, “…be sure that your sin will find you out”. Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart’s fall from grace is a good example. He had it all--fame, fortune and a successful ministry—but one moment of indiscretion with a prostitute hurt him. His confession to God even made it into the video for the song “American Dream” by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young in 1988. It follows the line “Now you think about reaching out, maybe get some help from above”, which is repeated twice. He might have thought that he could get away with it, but he got caught. As another verse of the same song goes:
Reporters crowd around your house
Going through your garbage like a pack of hounds
Speculating what they might find out
It don’t matter now
You’re all washed up
In fact, it was only a few years later, when he got caught with a prostitute again, that he and his ministry were washed up for good.
Nathan used the story as a case for David to judge. In Nathan’s story, the traveler represents David’s lust, and the lamb is Bathsheba. The story itself represents the commandments David broke-the ones regarding adultery, murder and coveting. It makes the point that no one can misuse God-given authority and power for selfish ends.
Nathan rebuked David, but he did so indirectly through the story he told. Nathan used a story that reminded David of his youth to break through David’s resistance and bring him to a place of true repentance. We do not have to go looking for other people’s faults or sins, but sometimes we can’t ignore them. Like Nathan, we must correct others in love with the hope of restoring them, and an approach bathed in prayer and led by the Spirit will accomplish more than our own self-righteous arguments even can.
Jesus outlined a good approach to use when correcting sinners in Matthew 18:15-17:
1. Confront the sinner in private. If he/she listens to you, great!
2. If the sinner does not listen to you, go with two or three others and confront him/her. Two or more witnesses will be able to back up what happens.
3. If the sinner refuses to listen to you and the witnesses, bring it before the church.
4. If the sinner refuses to listen to the church, he/she is to be removed from the church.
David “saw the light” when he was confronted with his sins. The enormity of his crimes and the condemnation by Nathan represent conviction by both the earthly judge Nathan and the heavenly judge God. You might be thinking that if it says in the Bible, “Judge not lest ye be judged”, Nathan broke this commandment. You must remember though that Nathan was an agent of God, and God is the one who judges people either directly or through people such as Nathan or other good Christians.